The whitebark pine

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“In 2006, my kids and I took a family vacation to Banff National Park, located in the Canadian Rockies.  We hiked some forty miles in five days, exploring many of the great features of this magnificent park.  Along the way, we kept noticing a certain kind of pine tree, the whitebark pine, dotting the landscape, especially at higher elevations.  Clinging to rocky cliffs overlooking pristine lakes, massive glaciers, and deep valleys, they looked like sentinels keeping watch over the world.  Each one was obviously weathered–trunks gnarled; limbs broken off; bark roughed up by wind, rain, sleet, and snow; clumps of needles stealing bits of sunlight; clawlike roots gripping rocky slopes   These trees had passed the test of time and survived, sculpted by the elements into extraordinary works of art.  They were truly beautiful–not beautiful like a child’s innocent and delicate face, but beautiful like the carved and aged face of a lifelong fisherman or farmer.  These trees were strong and seasoned, full of years and memory and character.

“Those trees symbolize what I believe God wants to accomplish in our lives, which is to work complete redemption.  He wants to use the harsh conditions of life to shape us–and eventually the whole world–into something extraordinarily beautiful.”

~Jerry Sittser, from A Grace Revealed

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